Help me choose a viola, Please!


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On 7/2/2018 at 2:25 AM, The Violin Beautiful said:

You’ll definitely be happier if you find a good instrument that fits and has a nice sound. If you’re thinking about its long term value, however, an instrument made in Romania will hold value far better than one made in China. 

That simply isn't true.  I got my Chinese viola for free, and have been offered over $200 bucks for it.  :P:lol:

On 6/30/2018 at 10:38 PM, joiedeviola said:

I am an advanced student entering high school, playing for 10 years, started at age 4. 

I am currently playing on a Johannes Kohr K5000 16" viola, and am (really) ready to upgrade!

I would like my next viola to get me through high school and college.

 

Welcome to MN!  Best of luck on your viola hunt.  I really like your username:)

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I think you should consider the entire range of the instrument equally.  I agree that too many people evaluate a viola based on its C. You see a lot of smaller violas that  have a booming, growling, C string, and people say "isn't this the most amazing 15.5" inch viola" But the upper register sounds like hell.

Evenness is what's hard to find in violas, and it gets better as you increase size, IMO.

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Here my two cents about choosing a good viola, as a player.

Avoid monochrome instruments. Look for many colours and contrast, you can have that only when you have a good dynamic range.

With a good viola you can work with the bow to create colours. In most violas you will change your bowing and nothing will happen.

With a good viola when you draw your bow from the end of the fingerboard towards the bridge increasing the weight you will notice a big change in volume and colour of the sound. Just good instruments offer that.

The viola must not choke when you play FFF near the bridge.

Avoid hollow sound, look for a focused sound.

Clarity is important too, when playing quick passages the notes should not mix.

Check the instrument in the upper regions of the C and G strings. You may not be using the 7th positions of the C string now but as you start studying more difficult pieces you will have to do that. Just good violas will sound good in high positions of the C string, in general you will have many wolves and rasped notes there.

Playing confort: not only the size matters here but also string length, upper bouts width, rib height, weight, feeling "under the chin". Try to play in high positions of the C string.

Look for a quick response too.

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15 hours ago, MANFIO said:

Here my two cents about choosing a good viola, as a player.

Avoid monochrome instruments. Look for many colours and contrast, you can have that only when you have a good dynamic range.

With a good viola you can work with the bow to create colours. In most violas you will change your bowing and nothing will happen.

With a good viola when you draw your bow from the end of the fingerboard towards the bridge increasing the weight you will notice a big change in volume and colour of the sound. Just good instruments offer that.

The viola must not choke when you play FFF near the bridge.

Avoid hollow sound, look for a focused sound.

Clarity is important too, when playing quick passages the notes should not mix. 

Check the instrument in the upper regions of the C and G strings. You may not be using the 7th positions of the C string now but as you start studying more difficult pieces you will have to do that. Just good violas will sound good in high positions of the C string, in general you will have many wolves and rasped notes there.

Playing confort: not only the size matters here but also string length, upper bouts width, rib height, weight, feeling "under the chin". Try to play in high positions of the C string. 

Look for a quick response too.

What string length and rib height do your instruments typically have?
My main instrument has a 370mm string length, 38/40 rib height, 16 3/8" body.

Among modern good violas I see two main types: Some persue a more nasal tone, a more traditional viola sound. I personally prefer modern violas with a more open, bigger tone (maybe this is what you call clarity).

 

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4 hours ago, uguntde said:

What string length and rib height do your instruments typically have?
My main instrument has a 370mm string length, 38/40 rib height, 16 3/8" body.

Among modern good violas I see two main types: Some persue a more nasal tone, a more traditional viola sound. I personally prefer modern violas with a more open, bigger tone (maybe this is what you call clarity).

 

375 mm string length. Rib heigh of 38/33 mm, 16 or 16.3, sometimes a small 15.5 too.

And I don't like a nasal tone too.

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19 hours ago, MANFIO said:

375 mm string length. Rib heigh of 38/33 mm, 16 or 16.3, sometimes a small 15.5 too.

And I don't like a nasal tone too.

5mm between top and bottom ribs is a lot. Is there a recording somewhere on the internet where one can heat one of your violas?

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